Ep 6: Christina Mathes: Propelling Innovation at Rocket Speed

On this episode we spoke with Christina Mathes, Vice President of Client Experience for Rocket Fiber. Rocket Fiber is Detroit's newest, exciting Gigabit Internet provider serving residents and businesses with 100 times faster Internet speeds.

Christina has a degree in Psychology from the University of Detroit Mercy, but was uncertain what to do with it!  So she started off in a position in mortgage banking at fast-growing Quicken Loans, where her career evolved over the past 15 years. About four years ago she moved to the Mouse Trap team, the “innovation arm” of Quicken Loans. Then she moved this past year to Rocket Fiber.

When Christina first made a move into technology, joining Mouse Trap, she was excited to learn and bring her first-hand business experience to the tech team. She loved being in a setting that supported positive breakthroughs. Mouse Trap helps Quicken Loans with vetting new ideas to propel innovation, in both technology and other aspects of the business. Her team also helped lead “bullet time,” a four hour weekly session on Mondays for technologists to learn new skills or work on new projects.

When one of the co-founders of Rocket Fiber submitted a concept to the idea portal of Mouse Trap to get Google Fiber to Detroit, they explored it. The Mouse Trap team conducted feasibility studies to see if the concept was viable in Detroit. Google wasn’t interested in entering the market, so Rocket Fiber was spun off about a year ago, to make the idea a reality.

Why is Gigabit Internet vital for Detroit? Christina said that it helps both new entrepreneurs and the  growing cadre of second stage companies in Detroit. For her, it is a “no brainer” that faster online connections can significantly help with the city’s growth trajectory! Christina pointed out that everyone has to have Internet these days, and she’s excited to provide a better client service experience for those accessing it. Rocket Fiber plans to use online tools, community events, and more to empower people to use the Internet.

“I’m excited about bringing our customers something they deserve. Folks are pigeon-holed into just a few options, and have poor experiences,” she said.

Bringing 100 times faster speeds will help residents save time, and businesses execute faster. For Christina, she likes to remind others it’s far more about what getting online speedily does for humans, and their endeavors, than just using the technology.

Christina shared some great advice for women entering or staying in technology fields:

  • If you want to try something, just try it.

  • It can be easy to achieve a good work / life balance if you focus on achieving it.

  • Surround yourself with others who share similar interests and challenges.

  • Meet everyone you can. Ask others what they’ve done.

  • Keep your head up, look around and meet people.

A noteworthy organization that helped Christina was We Build Character --- a program devoted to pairing emerging professionals with top-notch mentors.  WBC helped her meet diverse colleagues, and receive constructive feedback from her mentors and others in the program.

Christina is Vice President of Client Experience at Rocket Fiber :http://www.rocketfiber.com/

Christina mentions and recommends the following technology organizations throughout this episode:

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